Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Help propagating echeveria with leaf cuttings

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Name: monique
New Zealand
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moniquenz
Sep 26, 2016 2:34 PM CST
Hi there! I am trying to propagate this echeveria from leaf cuttings. None of the leaves have taken off like my other succulents Crying

The leaves start getting soft and then start getting a black discolouring (rot?) where they have calloused over. This my method:
1) gently remove a leaf, making sure it is healthy and intact.
2) Leave for callouses to form, usually 3 days
3) put onto soil and mist once a week.

I am not sure if they are drying out too quickly? It is spring here in New Zealand and we are lucky to get to the 20's (degrees celcius). At the moment they are outside in a little greenhouse. Do some echeverias not propagate well from leaf cuttings? Should I just use the pups?

Thanks Smiling
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Sep 26, 2016 4:03 PM CST
3 days sounds way too short of a time. Not all Echeverias can be done from a leaf. Stem cuttings work. Gene
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 26, 2016 9:35 PM CST
I would think you could place the leaves on top of soil immediately, without waiting. And then water after however many days you feel is appropriate, within about a week.

There is no scarring so speak of with leaf propagations (compared to stem cuttings, at least). The critical juncture is where the broken part of the leaf might come in contact with soil (and especially wet soil), that's where you don't want things going wrong. But given that you are never going to be burying the broken surface during a standard leaf propagation, the only thing to watch would be how soon you water. Sooner than a week is optimistic, around than that point you can resume a regular schedule of deep watering.

I water my leaf propagations like my stem propagations, which works out to when the soil is going dry, about once a week in 4-6 inch azalea-type pots.

In theory every Echeveria can be propagated from leaves. (As opposed to say Dudleyas, of which none can be propagated from leaves.) In reality there are physical limitations which make some plants way way easier than others to propagate this way. Those limitations might have to do with how hard it is to separate an intact leaf (all the way to the base, which is that part that matters) or more likely, how much moisture a leaf may hold (fatter leaves hold more water and give you better odds with leaf propagations).

The plant in the picture (Echeveria elegans?) is on the thin-leaved side (ie. lower odds of leaf propagations working) but you will find there are some plants which are just easier to propagate from offsets. In many of those cases the best approach is to dehead (core) the plant, with the grand ambition of forcing several branches that you can then cut, root, and grow on as new plants. Thumbs up
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 27, 2016 2:11 PM (+)]
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Name: monique
New Zealand
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moniquenz
Sep 27, 2016 2:32 PM CST
Brilliant thanks for help, both of you Thank You! ! I think you are right about the leaves being too thin Baja_Costero, my other Echeverias with nice fat leaves have started throwing out roots already.

I will just do the deheading process from now on Smiling
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 27, 2016 4:26 PM CST
It does require some confidence, because you're guaranteed a total loss if it doesn't work. Smiling But the only way to find out is to try. There are 3 places you can cut in your average Echeveria rosette (in vertical order from bottom to top):

1. through naked (old) stem well below the terminal rosette
2. within the rosette itself, so that you get a cutting to root but also leave several healthy leaves on the plant
3. within the center of the rosette, pinching out the growth point

The first is the safest but the least likely to give you offsets to play with later. The second is where I like to make the cut if possible, because each leaf left attached to the stem of the mother plant can give rise to a new rosette, theoretically. When the leaves are packed really close together along a stem and option #2 is not possible, then you have to go for the gusto, or wait things out to see if the plant will offset on its own. The third is of course the most risky and the most likely to hit the jackpot when it works.

There's a book called "Succulents: Propagation" by Attila Kapitany and Rudolf Schulz (one of the volumes in a 3-part series if I remember correctly) actually published in Australia. That would be the best place to start for expert advice on this subject, if you're old school like me. The authors have written other books (Schulz an excellent treatise on Aeoniums which I also recommend), but this particular 112-page softcover book has all sorts of nuggets to offer on the subject of propagation. I tip my hat to you.
Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
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madcratebuilder
Sep 28, 2016 8:18 AM CST
I have attempted to root a dozen or so echeveria leaves this summer with little to no success. Like you, the leaf would turn black before any new growth. It seemed like I would get a day of rain every ten days this year, that didn't help.

This week I was cleaning up for winter and found 4-5 leaves that had fallen off the plants and rooted, starting a new plant with out my help.

I was using rooting hormones and hovering over them like a mother hen, to much care didn't work for me.

Welcome to the forum.
Spectamur agendo
[Last edited by madcratebuilder - Sep 28, 2016 8:19 AM (+)]
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Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
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fixpix
Sep 28, 2016 9:32 AM CST
Do you need rooting hormone? I rooays root succulent cuttings without...
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 28, 2016 12:05 PM CST
No. I used to use rooting hormone (the powder) and then stopped completely one day. There was no difference whatsoever in how well cuttings root. Based on that experience, I would say skip the rooting hormone. Maybe in some special stubborn cases you might want to try it, but I haven't touched the stuff in years. The powder also has some kind of fungicide in it which I find useful for really large exposed cuts, but after 6-7 years in my garage I think the hormone in that bottle has gone pretty thoroughly bad. These products have a shelf life.

I think a lot of people use rooting hormone thinking it's somehow helpful without ever paying attention to whether it was necessary in the first place. As part of a ritual, as it were, and I understand the importance of rituals. You don't want to get that stuff on your hands, as it is not so human-friendly.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 28, 2016 12:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
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madcratebuilder
Sep 29, 2016 8:10 AM CST
I agree

What Baja said! I had done some very nonscientific side by side tests and I saw no difference in rooting and initial growth. It's kind of a "nothing else has worked" product for me.
Spectamur agendo
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
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lauriebasler
Sep 30, 2016 1:30 AM CST
Some do not water at all untill some roots form.
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Sep 30, 2016 1:31 AM CST
oops.....
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Oct 1, 2016 5:31 PM (+)]
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Name: monique
New Zealand
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moniquenz
Oct 1, 2016 10:00 PM CST
Thanks for the help, and my next question was going to be about using a rooting hormone, so thanks for clarifying for me. I think I will now hold off using leaf cuttings for the Echeveria and use Baja's de-heading steps. I can get a few plants from a friends garden, so not the end of the world if it goes pear-shaped!

Thanks for the book tip too Baja, will search for it online!

Thanks Thumbs up

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